Monday, January 25, 2010

What's yours is yours.

California takes very seriously the laws that govern the creative rights of individuals - no surprise since we are the movie industry capitol. Intellectual Property Law is not widely known or understood by most artists but is crucial in protecting your rights - especially if your art is being used and profited from someone who does not have the written right to do so. In fact, you can never really give away your total intellectual property rights, even if someone writes you check for a painting, artwork or graphics, photos etc...

Transferring the piece of artwork does not transfer your rights associated to that image you created. The only way to do so is if you have expressly given the rights in writing to use and reproduce your images and/or use your images to profit from.

A well known artist, we'll call him "Peter" created three album covers for a well known rock band. My good friend Laurie Butler represented "Peter" at the time, negotiated a deal that allowed "Peter" and the rock band to mutually benefit from specific tour merchandise using "Peter's" icons and artwork. This was possible because although "Peter" gave the rock band the original artwork, he never transferred his rights associated with the artwork. Therefore establishing in layman's terms an "automatic" copyright.

So what should you do if you find out someone is using your "intellectual property" without your express permission? First, send them a "Cease and Desist" letter. You can find various versions online. Include photos ( preferably of theirs and yours ) showing the violation and demanding they stop infringing on your rights. It is vitally important to document everything in writing, and send these documents by tracking mail or delivery system.

If you feel your damages are significant, you should hire an attorney and if you are in L.A. there is none better than Laurie Butler. Call her at 310-575-5600.

Some battles are worth fighting. This is one of them.

*photo via ffffound. This is not the album cover I am referring to in this article.


  1. Great information and thank goodness for Laurie!

  2. Yay! I'm so glad you're writing more about this! I'll RT this on twitter!


  3. This is really interesting (and might be important to all of us one day). Thanks for the info! Sabine x

  4. thanks dude!
    i know a lot of people that this has happened to.. awesome that you bring it to light :)

  5. Apparently this is a real problem on ETSY. There are always people in the forums who need to know what to do because someone has taken their photos to sell items in other shops.

    This is a great post with some very useful info!